Broncos are expecting same old Raiders even without Gruden
DENVER (AP) — Denver Broncos star linebacker Von Miller still sees the Las Vegas Raiders as Jon Gruden’s team even after their rival’s iconic coach resigned in disgrace.
While acknowledging “how they call the game will definitely change because they have a new play caller,” Miller insisted, “what they do is what they do.”
“They’re not going to come out here and be an option team. They’re not just going to come out here and change their whole identity because Gruden’s gone,” Miller argued. “They’re still going to do some of the things that they do well. We just don’t know when they will do it.
“To be honest, that’s really every week that we go out there,” Miller added. “We really don’t know what the other team is going to present.”
Longtime special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia makes his debut as the Raiders’ interim head coach Sunday, with offensive coordinator Greg Olson taking over play-calling duties in a matchup pitting 3-2 teams who are seeking their first win in October.
“No one wants to be a head coach in this particular situation, no one wants to be put in front of this under these particular circumstances,” said Bisaccia, whose first NFL job was under Gruden in 2002, when he was hired as special teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“But it’s an incredible opportunity, not only for me but for all the other coaches to see what we can do with this adversity, see what we can do with this challenge.”
Olson’s voice isn’t an unfamiliar one to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
“My rookie year he called plays,” Carr said. “I’ve heard his voice through the headset. I know how he calls the game and I know how he thinks. We’re in the same room. Every conversation I had with coach Gruden, I had with Oly this whole time.
“It’s not going to be anything crazy new but there are philosophies that some people have. So, I don’t want to give Oly’s secrets away, but could things be different? Yes. Could things be similar? Yes, absolutely.”
Other subplots Sunday when the AFC West archrivals meet for the 123rd time:
RUN INTO GROUND
The Raiders have been unable to get the running game going at all, hindering the offense. Las Vegas ranks 31st averaging 3.25 yards per carry as the line has been unable to create consistent holes for Josh Jacobs.
The Raiders made some switches last week on the line, moving rookie Alex Leatherwood from right tackle to guard and inserting Brandon Parker at tackle. That didn’t help much as the Raiders were held to 71 yards on 22 carries and allowed three more sacks.
Jacobs has had success against the Broncos, however, rushing for 286 yards and three TDs in three games.
The Broncos haven’t scored an opening-drive touchdown in 21 games under second-year offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and their skid of 24 games without one is the longest current streak in the NFL.
“We just got to have some energy,” quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. “We might need to do like the colleges and go goal line in pre-game or something, just bash heads or something to get the blood flowing, the juices flowing.”
Nothing else has worked since the last time they reached the end zone on their first possession, at Houston on Dec. 8, 2019.
TAKE IT AWAY
The Raiders’ defense has taken big strides this year under new coordinator Gus Bradley, but the one thing Denver hasn’t been able to do is force many turnovers.
The three takeaways are tied for third fewest in the NFL and they haven’t had one since intercepting Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter of a Week 2 win at Pittsburgh. Las Vegas ranked 30th in takeaways season with 15, but five of those came in a Week 10 win over the Broncos with Drew Lock at quarterback.
A key question that arose in light of the racist, homophobic and misogynistic thoughts expressed by Gruden in emails he wrote from 2011-18 to then-Washington club executive Bruce Allen: Just how pervasive are those sorts of attitudes around the sport these days?
Bridgewater demurred, saying he was too wrapped up in Raider Week to pay much attention to the Raiders’ imbroglio. But Broncos safety Justin Simmons raised the point that representation matters: “You get different backgrounds, you get different opinions.”
Denver coach Vic Fangio had a strong reaction to Gruden’s words that led to his resignation Monday night.
“I just think there’s no place in the world, let alone our league, for the opinions that were expressed, and especially the words used to express those opinions,” said Fangio.
AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed.
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